Dad and children  on the tour
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The Government has bowed to pressure from business and proposals to extend paternity leave to six months from April 2010 have been put on hold as a result of the recession.

The Work and Families Act 2006 allows for regulations to be made which would permit working fathers to take up to 26 weeks of additional paternity leave, some of which can be paid, if the mother returns to work before the end of the one-year maternity leave period to which she is entitled.  The new provision would be available during the second six months of the child’s life, so in effect, fathers would be able to ‘share’ some of the maternity leave which is currently only preserved for the mother.  The entitlement would also extend to couples who are adopting and to partners and civil partners of mothers.

The Government had stated some time ago that the earliest date additional paternity leave and pay would be implemented was for babies due in April 2010.  However, a Government spokesman has now said that the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform is continuing to review the appropriateness of all new regulations due to come into force in the current economic climate and, as a result, a date has not yet been announced for extending paternity rights.

At the same time, the Government had proposed to extend statutory maternity pay and statutory adoption pay from nine to 12 months (to coincide with the period of maternity and adoption leave) and it looks as if this is also on hold.

Under the current law, working fathers are only entitled to two weeks’ paid paternity leave, which is usually taken immediately after the baby is born.

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